…”ProMedica in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan has chosen to focus its attention on the health effects of hunger and poor nutrition. ProMedica, which serves 1.5 million people, decided to act after a study showed that a large proportion of patients subsisted on low-cost junk food diets—things like pizza, tacos, chips, and soda. As a result, they suffered higher-than-average rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and back issues.

ProMedica now screens all patients for hunger and poor nutrition. ‘When you look at poverty, there are so many [overwhelming] issues—education, crime, underemployment, and so on,” said Randy Oostra, ProMedica’s president and CEO. “But hunger [and malnutrition] was something we could get our arms around. We can screen every single patient we touch for hunger.’ “